Where did Cain get his wife?
This is certainly one of the most ancient of all questions raised by Bible critics, and we can be sure that the superficial contradiction it implies did not escape notice by the original writers of the Bible. Cain was apparently the first son of Adam and Eve (Genesis 4:1) and Abel the second (Genesis 4:2).
After Cain had murdered his brother Abel (Genesis 4:8), God punished him by sending him away from his home and from God’s presence forever. But then we are told that Cain was fearful of vengeance by others who might slay him (Genesis 4:14), that he knew his wife (Genesis 4:17), and even that he built a city. The descendants of Cain and the antediluvian civilization which they developed are described in Genesis 4:17-24.
Skeptics have “wondered” where all those other people came from if no one except Adam, Eve and Cain were living at this time. The idea that there might have been in the vicinity a “pre-Adamic” race of men is clearly precluded by the unequivocal Bible teaching that Adam was the “first man” (1 Corinthians 15:45, etc.) and that Eve was “the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).
However, the real reason for this criticism is merely the evolutionary presupposition that such critics hold. They are unwilling to believe that God started the human race by special creation of one man and one woman, preferring instead to believe that man came instead as a slowly evolving population of primates which eventually acquired what we consider human characteristics about one million years ago.
However, the Lord Jesus Christ, who was Himself man’s Creator in the beginning (note John 1:1-3; Colossians 1:16, 17, etc.), taught otherwise. He said: “Have ye not read (that is, in Genesis 1:27, which He was quoting) that He which made them at the beginning made them male and female, . . ?” (Matthew 19:4). Thus the creation of Adam and Eve, as the progenitors of the human race, was “at the beginning,” not after millions of years of evolution of a pre-human population of animals.
In the beginning, according to Scripture, man was created “very good” and would have lived forever had he not sinned. But, “by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin” (Romans 5:12). Even after the reign of decay and death entered the world at the time of God’s great Curse on man’s dominion (Genesis 3:17), most men did live for hundreds of years and undoubtedly had large families. Adam and Eve are said to have had both “sons and daughters” (Genesis 5:4) during the 930 years of Adam’s lifetime, and the same is true of each of the other antediluvian patriarchs listed in the genealogies of Genesis 5. The average life-span of these patriarchs (excluding Enoch, who was taken out of the world before he died) is 912 years.
The question of how man was able to live to such great ages is a separate problem, which will be discussed later. Taking the record at face value, however, it is obvious that a very large population could have developed in the world before the Flood. It can be shown that, based on very conservative assumptions as to family size, average longevity, etc., there could easily have been many millions of people in the world long before Cain’s death.
Since the Bible does not indicate at what period of his life he murdered his brother, took his wife, or built his city, there is obviously no contradiction in the record. Consequently, neither the original writer of Genesis 4 nor any later editors ever felt this was a problem that needed explanation.
Now, at least one son and one daughter of Adam and Eve had to marry each other in the first generation after the beginning in order for the race to get started at all. There is no other possibility if all men are descended from Adam and Eve as the Bible teaches.
In later generations, brother-sister marriages would come to be recognized as genetically dangerous and would be prohibited as “incest.” Not only the Bible but also most other legal codes refuse to sanction marriages of close relatives. The scientific reason for this restriction is that children of such marriages are more likely to be deformed or sickly or moronic than those of other marriages. The genetic basis for this probability is that inherited mutant genes, producing such unwholesome characteristics, are more likely to find expression in the children if they are carried by both parents.
However, there were no mutant genes in the genetic systems of Adam and Eve, as these had come directly from the creative hand of God Himself. Thus no genetic harm could have resulted had Cain or some other son of Adam married his sister. In fact, it would undoubtedly have taken many generations before enough genetic mutations (which are random, and therefore harmful, changes in the highly ordered structure of the germ cell, brought about by penetration of the cell by short-wave-length radiation or some other destructive agent) could have accumulated in the human race to make such marriages of close relatives genetically harmful.
The Bible is thus always consistent, not only with its own statements, but also with all known facts of science.
THE BIBLE HAS THE ANSWER
HENRY M. MORRIS AND MARTIN E. CLARK
El Cajon, California